Sunday, May 11, 2008
I believe I haven't written in a while, so I'll try to catch you up to speed. First of all, we got internet in my house! Very exciting, and I don't know if it takes away from the Peace Corps experience or not, but it will certainly help me keep in touch.
Second, there was Easter holiday in Bulgaria at the end of April. It was kind of strange because most Bulgarians aren't very religious, except maybe the older generations, yet many people celebrate Easter quite seriously. Part of the tradition is to go to church the night before Easter and circle the church three times with a candle and a priest. If it goes out, you will have bad luck/bad health/bad something. I went but didn't circle anything. It was very historic, almost mystical inside. The more important part of the holiday for most Bulgarians is the food. Bulgarians dye Easter eggs, like Americans do, and later on Easter morning they have competitions by knocking two eggs together. Whoever's egg isn't cracked wins. Almost all families eat Kozunak, which is a fluffy sweet bread that my Baba made at home. It was pretty amazing, and she made six loaves for five people (me, Baba, my host mom, and her son, Sasho, and daughter, Rali, who came home from Sofia for the vacation), so we were eating it like it was going out of style. It is also typical to eat lamb. I had previous enjoyed lamb, but this time it was more symbolic since they slaughtered the lamb in our yard on Easter. I don't eat meat anymore for various reasons.
So after Easter weekend, the citizens of Bulgarian had much of the week off, but we went back to lessons. I went hiking in this amazing park behind my house where Roman ruins still stand. Yup, in my backyard practically. It's kinda nuts. I also took a day trip to see other volunteers in a smaller site where I was able to have more of the Peace Corps experience, and I got to see a young calf, lots of sheep, chickens, rabbits, and of course the stray dogs that are everywhere. On my way back home, we stumbled upon a men's volleyball game that was mnogo (very) random and fun. The home team won and sent Sofia packing.
This week has been pretty busy with getting back to teaching and preparing for interviews. We had our site placement interviews this week, along with an oral language proficiency exam. It's hard to believe, but we are almost halfway through our training and will be moving to our permanent sites in a little over a month. Tonight was the 35th anniversary of the school where I'm training to teach, so there was a concert with a short film about the school and it's legacy, lots of musical acts (from Horo to techno) and mini-interviews with teachers on stage. Afterward, the teachers had a celebration at a local hotel. We had a great time, eating and dancing and eating and dancing. The teachers plotted to find me a boyfriend by Monday so that I could stay at their school. It's funny, but at the same time, not too uncommon to be set up once people find out that you are single. Even some of my American friends who have been here long enough start to try.
Tomorrow we will be having a cultural day with the Roma children in my town, so there's pickup basketball, football (soccer), and frisbee in store. On Sunday (weather permitting) I'm going to head out of the town for a day to help out at a friend's farm. It'll be a good way for me to stay occupied until we find out our placements on Monday. I'm also reading an interesting book called "Voices from the Gulag" about the concentration camps in Communist Bulgaria. It's interesting because it tells the story through accounts on all sides of the camp, prisoners, guards, doctors, and the director of the camps. It's also sad to see how the blame never really finds a home.
Okay, so now that I've written a small novel, write me back! Or I'll Fed-Ex stray dogs to you (we have plenty!)!!